TADFF 2017: The Villainess
With more action than you can take and a many-layered story, Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess is full of love, betrayal and definitely no honour among thieves.
Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) is a woman with a mission. After witnessing her father’s murder as a young girl, she is kidnapped with the hopes of revealing where her father hid a valuable jewel, rescued by a covert operation and trained as a spy extraordinaire. As an adult, she becomes romantically involved with her trainer, but when that relationship is in jeopardy and she attempts revenge, she is captured by another organization and conditioned to become an assassin while also becoming a mother. After she does her Chief’s bidding, she realizes there is a heap of double-agent action going on and must choose between her past, present, protecting her child, and betrayal to survive.
The first 8 minutes of this film is a first hand, front row view of major slice and dice fighting. Our protagonist battles a barrage of assailants and we get to see it through her eyes, like a first-person shooter video game. It’s a wild ride to start a movie off, giving us a clear idea of exactly how badass this woman is. With superb camera work and insane fight sequences, you’re pulled into the action and become hungry for more. The only issue is that the plot also comes flying at you like the knives Sook-hee dodges. It’s a willy-nilly story with layers that don’t make sense until the last 45 minutes of the film. And at 2 hours long, that’s a bit of a trek for an audience to make sense of things with flashbacks.
Kim is great as the defiant and determined Sook-hee and Jun Sung was charming as the nerdy, but well-meaning, agent Hyun-soo assigned to watch over her. Actually, the entire cast is really good, but unfortunately the plot involved so many twists that I just wanted everyone to die at one point. It was distracting trying to figure out what was going on amidst the brilliant fights and stunts, but if you hang in, you’ll enjoy the overall experience. It should be noted that for those who suffer from motion sickness, you might want to take heed. The camera work is like being on a rollercoaster.
See The Villainess for some of the craziest stunts and amazing fights, but don’t expect an easy ride for plot.
Saturday, October 14, 6:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Ticket information can be found at the Toronto After Dark website.